30+ Easy Ways to Conserve Energy on Thanksgiving (& Lower Your Utility Bill)
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so you’re probably getting excited to spend time with family and friends and deciding which side dishes will accompany the beautiful, glistening turkey. Should you make pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or both? While Thanksgiving is all about the amazing food and good times with loved ones, it’s also responsible for a huge spike in energy bills. A few minor adjustments really can save energy—which saves YOU time and money!
Here are few money-saving energy tips to keep in mind while you’re hustling around the kitchen.
Maximize the oven
As tempting as it might be, once you start the turkey (or any other dish) in the oven, keep the door closed! Even opening the door for a glimpse can set the temperature back 20°F, causing your oven to go into overdrive which costs you more money.
Try these cooking & serving tips to save energy:
- Use a timer
- No need to preheat if the dish needs more than an hour to bake
- Turn off the oven a few minutes before the timer goes off—the oven stays hot enough to continue cooking your dish
- Use glass and ceramic baking dishes—they retain heat better than metal, allowing you to reduce the oven temperature by 25°F
- Use the convection setting to circulate the hot air in the oven
- Bake multiple dishes the same time you cook the turkey to cut down on the amount of time the oven is on
- Buy a smaller turkey—with all the side dishes available, a smaller turkey will take less time to cook and will take up less valuable oven space
- Cook the stuffing/dressing in a dish instead of the turkey to cut down on turkey cook time
- Use the oven’s residual heat after cooking dinner and turn on the self cleaning feature
Utilize the stove
While most Thanksgiving dishes tend to be cooked in the oven, try and use the stove as much as possible as range-top cooking uses less energy.
- Keep pots and pans covered to prevent heat loss
- Use the lowest possible setting
- Keep burners and reflectors clean
- Check your electric coils regularly to make sure they aren’t worn out
Try the slow cooker
While some might be used to cooking in a slow cooker, most don’t realize all the advantages of it. It’s incredibly easy (put in the food, close the lid, press start), frees up the oven and stove for other dishes, and saves energy!
Its low wattage means that ten hours of slow cooker usage only costs around 21 cents. Just like our oven tip above, resist the urge to open the lid for a peek. Each lift can release enough heat to add 25 more minutes to your cook time!
Consider cooking your mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, or warm drinks like mulled wine or cider in your slow cooker.
Turn down the thermostat
With all the action going on inside the kitchen, the good news is that the rest of the house will reap some benefits. If you have the heat on because it’s cold outside, turn it down a few degrees. The heat from the kitchen and from the extra people in your house will heat the other rooms.
Let the leftovers cool
One of the best parts of Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers. Thanksgiving dinner can last for days and if you’re like most, you probably kept that in mind when deciding exactly how much of each dish you should make.
After you eat your fill, store your leftovers in glass, airtight containers. Before you put them in the fridge, let them cool completely. Putting them in the refrigerator still hot will affect the resting temperature of the refrigerator, causing the fridge to work harder to reach the ideal cool temperature.
Dinner is done, bellies are full, and everyone is resting in the living room. In the kitchen, dishes are everywhere…without a doubt, the worst part of preparing a big meal! But you may be wondering which method is best: dishwasher vs hand washing?
Using dishwashers save time and money because with hand washing, we usually keep the hot water running way too long. According to Energy.gov, not only does it use less than half the energy, the dishwasher also saves on water use. Plus, if your dishes haven’t been sitting around for a long time, you can probably get by using the light cycle with warm water.
Try these additional tips for easier, more efficient cleaning:
- Put pots and pans into the dishwasher ASAP to avoid rinsing
- Scrap off plates into the garbage can instead of rinsing
- Open the dishwasher door to air dry instead of using the heated dry cycle
- Consider using paper plates and bowls for a large crowd to cut down on the amount of times you need to run the dishwasher
Other household energy saving tips
- Use the microwave—it uses way less energy than the oven
- Install a dimmer switch for the dining room table light—you’ll double the bulb’s lifespan every time you dim the bulb’s brightness by 10%
- Keep the lights off in unused rooms
- If you have an unused fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue and keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning so heat does not escape the house
- Find more ideas for cutting energy costs on the Energy.gov Energy Saver site here
Do you have other ideas on how to save energy on such a busy holiday? Or a favorite slow-cooker or microwave recipe? Share your ideas with us!